Gigi Sohn, who is President Joe Biden's nominee to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Feb. 9, 2022, during her nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: Pete Marovich / The New York Times via AP

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Rural broadband is critical to our economy and infrastructure. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and other Maine officials understand this fact and have worked hard to expand broadband into underserved rural areas.

In fact, the Maine Legislature created the Maine Connectivity Authority and the Senate confirmed its new president, Andrew Butcher, just last year. His agency is charged with making universal access of affordable high-speed broadband in Maine a reality.

A meeting held Feb. 22 by the agency shows how difficult this task is. For example, Chesterville is split between two service districts, or exchanges. Half of the town in one exchange has high-speed access, while the other in another exchange does not.

This situation exists in many rural communities; and we need federal help to achieve high-speed access in every corner of Maine.

But Gigi Sohn, one of the Biden administration’s key  nominees to handle broadband issues at the Federal Communications Commission, has a track record of statements that shows she has unacceptable concerns about rural broadband.

For example, Sohn said “policymakers have focused disproportionately on broadband deployment in rural areas of the United States.” That’s an entirely disqualifying statement — my constituents in Washington and Hancock counties rely heavily on broadband expansion; and it should continue to be an issue of focus. 

Sohn’s nomination will be up for a vote soon. I hope every senator is mindful that rural access to broadband needs to be a top priority for all federal officials. Local communities in every state are depending upon it. 

Sen. Marianne Moore